Meteor Sound Research Suggests It May Be Possible To Hear Space Rocks
For centuries, people have reported hearing a sound made by meteors as they streaked across the skies overhead. And with the Perseids about to dazzle skywatchers with a meteor display that will earn it the title «fireball champion,» some researchers are wondering if the Perseid meteor shower will be heard as well as seen.
In A.D. 817, as a meteor shower passed over China, many observers reported hearing buzzing, sizzling or hissing sounds, according to a 1992 report by Colin Keay, a physicist at the University of Newcastle in Australia. [When Space Attacks: The 6 Craziest Meteor Impacts]
A similar phenomenon occurred in 1719, when a fireball passed over England. Astronomer Edmond Halley reported, «Of several accidents that were reported to have attended its passage, many were the effect of pure fantasy, such as the hearing it hiss as it went along, as if it had been near at hand.»